Thinking Inside the Box

Change In Season Means Change In Merchandising

September 13, 2012
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Fall/winter is coming in the Northern Hemisphere and spring/summer in the Southern Hemisphere. This means a change in season and a change in merchandising.
Are we ready with new ideas and new merchandise? As retailers do we have exciting new plans for our stores and, of course, for our customers? As manufacturers, did we bring our retailer customers exciting new products, flavors and tastes for this new season? All the media we read is talking about growth in private label, and that tomorrow’s customers are more and more excited about what private label has to offer. This means the second half of 2012 should be really good for all of us in this industry.
But what about 2013? What are we thinking about for the next year? As retailers, are we seeing great new ideas for next year? As manufacturers, are we ready to show our customers some major new advances in products, tastes, functionality and improved value?
Last month, I wrote about the Olympics. This morning, I watched the closing ceremonies from London. I listened as commentator after commentator talked about whether this athlete would be in Rio for 2016, or whether they would retire before then. This got me thinking about all of our three- to five-year plans. If we have them!
If we have solid plans for one year ahead, we likely would be the exception. It behooves us all to be making firm plans for our next 12 to 24 months in terms of product selection, development, and presentation. Are we ready, as manufacturers, to show our retailer customers enough new ideas to excite and engage them ahead of our competition? As retailers, are we setting aside time in our busy schedules for asking manufacturers to show us what 2013 and 2014 will look like?
We all should be planning ahead, just as the Olympians are.
This brings me to Chicago in November, and Shanghai in December. Will you be there? These are the most important places to be if you want to meet your manufacturers and find new ones. And then, of course, Amsterdam in May next year.
Retailers must be there, and manufacturers, as well. If not to exhibit, then to benchmark the competition.
Please put yourselves in Michael Phelps’ shoes. Not that he wears any. Or Usain Bolt’s. These guys have to think ahead. Would they stand a chance again?
In the product business, we have to think ahead. Will we get gold or less? Will we be ready to explode off the blocks, or stay on the bike as we shoot around the velodrome? Will our customers see a reason to come to our store instead of the competition? Will our customers come to our booth at PLMA and not the competition?
Preparation is everything. Forward thinking is everything. Plan to be ready, well ahead of time. And then we can be sure of getting the medals.
Till next time.

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